Supreme Court justice withdraws from Abia case over allegation of bias
Upholds Ademola’s, wife’s N50m bail, Agi gets reprieve
A member of the Supreme Court panel hearing Abia State governorship election appeal, Justice Amina Augie, yesterday excused herself from the matter.
Augie said her resignation from the case was influenced by allegation of bias levelled against her by one of the parties in the matter.
She added that she could not sit on the panel hearing the appeals number 10 and 11 filed by Dr. Samson Ogah as well as well as that filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), on the ground that there was a resentment by one of the parties.
She informed the court that the party had accused her of not properly constituting the four-member panel of justices of the Court of Appeal that heard the petition challenging the election of Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State in Owerri, when she was the presiding justice of the division.
Consequently, the five-member panel of justices hearing the appeal adjourned the matter to a date that would be communicated to all the parties .
Justices Bode Rhodes Vivour who presided over the panel stated that once a judge is accused of bias in any case, the ideal thing is to withdraw from the matter.
He noted that a new panel would be reconstituted to hear the appeals and that he will contact the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to get a date so as to dispense with the appeal fast.
In another development, a judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Jude Okeke yesterday, upheld the existing bail granted to Justice Adeniyi Ademola and his wife, Olabowale on Decembe 13, and also granted bail to Joe Agi (SAN).
While both parties were earlier arraigned on an 11-count charge bothering on conspiracy to receive gratification, possession of fire arms among others, a rearrangement was initiated with the joining of a third defendant, Joe Agi, in the matter effecting the amendment of the charge to a 16-count.
Agi was alleged to have offered the said gratification, including a BMW saloon car valued at N8.5m to Justice Ademola between March 11 and 16 through the judge’s son, Ademide Ademola.
The judge was alleged to have transferred the sum of N175 million in two tranches of 85 and 90 million naira to one Franco Dan Parker. The sums were said to form proceeds of an unlawful act contrary to Section 24 of the ICPC Act.
The prosecution also alleged that Justice Ademola attempted to obtain a sum of N25m gratification from one Sani Suaibu Teidi, as a motive for showing favour in the exercise of his judicial functions contrary to Section 115 (b) of the Penal Code.
Justice Ademola, was one of the judges whose homes were raided in a sting operation by the DSS on October 2016. Security operatives had allegedly recovered 4,400 Euros, 80 Pounds, 1010 Rupees, N54 million and $121, 279.
At the commencement of the case yesterday, the judge, his wife and the third defendant, Joe Agi, all denied the charge when it was read to them.
Counsel to the first and second defendant, Solo Akuma, prayed the court to grant the earlier bail with same conditions to his clients since it has been fulfilled. He informed that the court had granted bail to both first and second defendants bail in the sum of N50m and on self recognizance with the deposit of their international passports.
Counsel to the third defendant, Jeph Njikonye, on his part, moved a motion on notice for bail which is an application dated and filed on January 10, 2017 served on the complainant the day before.
Prosecution Counsel, Segun Jegede, though did not oppose the request of counsel to the first and second defendants, he however urged the court to under Section 25 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), impose on the third defendant, conditions that will ensure his attendance in trial.
In his ruling, the Justice Okeke granted the third defendant bail in the sum of N50 million while he is required to also deposit his international passport.
The substantive hearing would begin on January 16.